Chanting “Justice for Justine, justice for all,” about 75 community activists and residents of the neighborhood where Justine Damond lived and died gathered Tuesday, saying their fight is not over.
“We celebrate right now,” activist John Thompson said. “But make no mistake, we’re not here celebrating that there are charges. We won’t accept anything less than a conviction.”
Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was charged Tuesday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the July shooting death of Damond, 40, who had called police to report a possible assault behind her home. Noor, sitting in the passenger seat of the squad car that was dispatched, shot and killed her.
Thompson said several people called him Tuesday, asking if he thought Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman charged Noor in Damond’s death because Noor is black.
“No, I think he charged him because he broke the law,” he said.
Katherine Hamberg, one of several neighbors who represented Justice for Justine at the vigil, said, “We can no longer fool ourselves that this happens to people only in underprivileged communities ... it can happen again to any of us.”
Damond would have been at the rally if something like this had happened to someone else, Hamberg said. She shared an e-mail Damond sent to friends in her native Australia after a terrorist attack there in 2014.
“It seems that things have to happen to wake people up, to move people, to shock people into coming together for love and freedom,” the e-mail said. “And so at times like this, I see these beautiful souls who gave their lives as teachers to the community around them.”
Said Hamberg, “Justine has become our teacher and I ask each of you to learn from the injustice of her death. To hear and answer her call to action.”
The shooting stunned neighbors in the Fulton neighborhood of southwest Minneapolis where Damond lived with her fiancé, Don Damond. She had already taken his last name.
Her death also mobilized neighbors who had never before protested. Her name became a rallying cry at protests against the police shootings of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis, Philando Castile in Falcon Heights and others around the Twin Cities.
Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations, was one of nine speakers at Tuesday night’s rally in the snow and drizzle.
“Today we are glad to hear that a lost life is finally getting justice,” he told the group. “We know this road is rough, this road is tough. But we want every single person to be accountable for their actions; we want every single police officer not to be above the law but with the law.”
Leslie Badue and Nekima Levy-Pounds, president and past president, respectively, of the Minneapolis NAACP, both said the charging decision is somewhat bittersweet for them.
“Justine deserves justice,” Levy-Pounds said. “But on the flip side I have to say that justice for one is not justice for all.”
She was referring to Freeman’s decision to not charge the Minneapolis officer who shot Clark in November 2015.
Said Badue, “This is moving one step farther toward justice. The next question we have to ask is, justice for who? We need to make sure this is equitable across the board.”